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New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Does your worksite contain safety hazards?

Despite the risks to employees and productivity, many workplaces contain safety hazards. Sometimes a safety hazard arises suddenly, while others may exist for days, weeks or months without an employer taking steps to remedy the issue.

If you observe a workplace safety hazard, it is important to understand your rights as an employee. In some circumstances, you may find that the danger posed by the hazard is very serious, and you need to leave the worksite immediately.

Using headlights in the day as a preventive accident tool

New York drivers might not be aware that a number of studies have linked the usage of headlights during daytime driving to a reduction in accidents. While there are already vehicles on the road with technology that makes this easier for the driver, there is no legislation in the U.S. that requires this.

According to several studies, the use of headlights during daytime driving has resulted in a reduction in the number of accidents of various types. The reduction has been shown even during clear, light days. While the studies show reductions overall, the deepest impact has come in the accidents involving pedestrians or motorcycles with vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Researchers believe that the decrease is due to the increased visibility provided when vehicles use headlights during the day. It is important to note that the types of accidents most affected by the use of daytime headlights are also the types of accidents that result in more serious personal injuries.

Fall weather can be hazardous for drivers

For many New York motorists, the fall months can be dangerous due to potentially unpredictable weather conditions and a variety of other factors. However, knowing what hazards to look for and how to reduce the risks of fall driving can keep people safer.

Hazardous weather conditions are always a possibility during the fall season. For example, rain often pools on top of the roadway instead of seeping into the ground. This can cause a hydroplane hazard. Fog in the mornings can limit visibility and cause drivers to have trouble when estimating distances. Deer also often migrate during the fall, so the risks of striking one on the roadway increase. School buses and other back-to-school traffic, including pedestrian students, increase.

Struck-by accidents more common in the construction industry

Many New Yorkers are employed in construction, an industry that carries some of the highest risks of work-related injury accidents. Among other hazards, the construction industry has the dubious distinction of being the leader among all U.S. industries for struck-by deaths.

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, in excess of 800 workers in the construction industry died as a result of struck-by accidents from 2011 to 2015. Of those deaths, 52 percent involved workers being struck by objects or equipment, and the remainder involved workers being struck by cars or other vehicles. Workers who were ages 65 and older were at greater risk of dying from struck-by accidents.

Delays seem to be hindering autonomous vehicles

Most New York drivers have experienced long hours on busy roads and in traffic jams. This may spark an interest in electric and autonomous vehicles (AVs). In theory, AVs could help save in transportation costs and allow passengers to use traffic time for other, more productive activities.

Many experts and supporters of electric and autonomous vehicles predicted that there would be a fast growth in the market for such technology. In fact, one prediction stated that 200,000 electric vehicles would be sold in the U.S. in 2013. President Obama himself supported a fast-growth vision, announcing that a million such vehicles would be traveling in the U.S. by 2016. The reality of the sales, however, has lagged substantially behind the predictions, partly because of the high cost of electric cars and partly because humans are still suspicious of the safety of AVs.

Truck driver sleep apnea rule withdrawn

New York motorists may have heard that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn a new rule that would have established sleep apnea screening requirements for truck drivers. The agency issued a notice regarding the withdrawal in early August.

The rule was designed to provide guidance to health care providers, truck drivers and truck companies about the conditions that may require a driver to undergo a sleep apnea assessment. It also would have outlined a treatment protocol for drivers diagnosed with sleep apnea. The rule was meant to standardize the sleep apnea screening process for truck drivers, but critics say it has caused confusion throughout the trucking industry.

Are you overworked in the summer heat?

If you work outside worksites in New York, July and August can bring brutal heat. In construction and other manual labor jobs, crew managers and superiors on a worksite may not always prioritize the safety of workers who perform hard labor in the summer heat. In some cases, the pressure to meet certain project goals on time drives employers to encourage employees toward unsafe work habits.

If you have concerns about the safety of your workspace, you should think carefully about what to do about them. In some cases, simply bringing your concerns to your crew leader or other superior is enough to get the relief you need, but not always.

Car drivers are often to blame for truck accidents

Federal accident data indicates that more than 5,000 road users are killed each year around the country in accidents involving semi-tractor trailers. Drowsy, impaired or distracted truck drivers are often blamed for these fatal crashes, but the information suggests that it is passenger vehicle drivers who are most often at fault. The Department of Transportation estimates that car drivers are to blame for about 70 percent of the accidents involving large commercial vehicles, and the vast majority of these crashes in New York and elsewhere involve some sort of human error.

According to DOT motor vehicle accident figures, 58 percent of the road users killed in truck crashes in 2015 were occupants of vehicles that either rear-ended a tractor-trailer or struck one head-on. Experts say that most of the head-on collisions involving trucks each year are caused by passenger vehicle drivers who cross the center line due to fatigue or distraction or misjudge a passing maneuver.

Can I sue my employer if I get hurt at work?

After an injury on the job, the most obvious thing to do is file a workers' compensation claim and use all the tools at your disposal to make sure that you get the most out of the claim. However, many employees wonder if it is possible to sue their employer instead of accepting the workers' compensation benefits.

In very general terms, it is usually not possible to sue an employer after an injury on the job, but there are some exceptions.

  • $2.05 Million Settlement Mother of Two Struck and Killed by Motorist

    StolzenbergCortelli LLP recently resolved a heart breaking wrongful death action. The mother of two was struck and killed, while she crossed a roadway.

  • $1.1 Million Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Trip Over Nail Case

    Terrence and Howard settled a trip and fall case for $1,100,000. In this case, our client (a resident of Brooklyn) was a cleaning lady who was hired to clean the newsroom of the Wall Street Journal.

  • $750,000 Verdict Jane and John Doe v. Defendant Driver

    The names are redacted for privacy reasons. In this automobile accident case, the female plaintiff was injured and suffered seriously debilitating injuries.

  • $525,000 Settlement Injured When the Trailer upon which He was Standing Collapsed

    Our client was a teamster, working at a concrete plant in Westchester, when he was seriously injured. At the time, he was standing on a trailer, which is colloquially known as a "low boy", when the wooden slats upon which he was standing, collapsed.

  • $457,500 Settlement Car Accident Victim With Pre-Existing Neck Injury

    Settled a client's case for $457,500. The client suffered a significant cervical spine injury requiring a fusion surgery.He was t-boned by a car exiting Purdy's farmer and the Fish in Somers, New York.

  • $450,000 Settlement StolzenbergCortelli LLP Settles Construction Accident Case

    Howard Stolzenberg settled a case for $450,000 where a construction worker was forced to use an exterior fire escape ladder to access the top of the building all while carrying a one gallon bucket of paint. The worker fell and fractured his ankle.

  • $100,000 Settlement Teenager Hit From Behind

    We just settled a case for a young girl who was injured when she was struck from behind while waiting at a red light at an intersection near the entrance to the Saw Mill in Yonkers. She had hip and shoulder surgery.

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